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What is the difference between Perfume and Perfume Oils?

We are about to launch a new range of perfume oil products, but before we do we thought it might be useful to explain what they are and how they differ from the perfume you might know when bought from department stores or supermarkets.

What is a Perfume Oil ?

To understand this easier, it is better to say that all Perfumes, as you know them in department stores, are actually perfume oils that have been diluted to be sprayable. The dilutant is typically denatured (i.e. undrinkable) 95 proof alcohol. Perfume oils that you buy are also diluted, but with an odourless  carrier oil, which may be jojoba oil or fractionated coconut oil.

Differences between Perfume and Perfume Oil

I found an interesting article from about 10 years ago written by an e-bayer, which is still valid today and which I would like to share with you.

Article from 2006

The history of perfume oils dates back to ancient Egypt when these fine scented oils were presented to royalty as gifts.

As far as the UK is concerned, according to Wikipedia,

"Perfume use peaked in England during the reigns of Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) and Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603). All public places were scented during Queen Elizabeth's rule, since she could not tolerate bad smells.  Ladies of the day took great pride in creating delightful fragrances and they displayed their skill in mixing scents.

In modern times, however, when the word "perfume" is said, most people think of department store fragrances, which consist mainly of the concentrated oil and alcohol solution. Nevertheless, as more and more people are finding out about them, perfume oils are experiencing great popularity. Here are some interesting facts about perfume oils:

1) Strength of smell - Perfume oils are highly concentrated and up to ten times more concentrated than department store perfumes. This quality allows oils to last longer than their eau de perfume counterparts.

2) Alcohol - Perfumes have alcohol in them, which creates different smell effects. Most body oils use carrier oils like jojoba or fractionated coconut oil in place of alcohol. In some fragrances, the smell can change as the alcohol evaporates different scent notes through time. With oils, the scent is more constant.

3) Price - A noticeable difference between perfumes and perfume oils is price. Perfumes have a very high markup and great profit margins, which is perhaps why many celebrities have embarked on the trend of creating their own perfumes and colognes. Perfume oils can be sold very cheaply, or even more expensively than the perfumes, depending on how they are positioned in the market.

4) Body chemistry - Just because a perfume or cologne smells good on you, doesn't mean that the oil version will. Perfumes only have a small percentage of oil, so they are quite different than pure body oils. This interaction between the fragrance and your body may produce a different scent perception altogether.

5) Packaging - Clearly, department store perfumes are very nicely packaged and thus make great gifts for friends and family. Many perfume oils are sold in less attractive containers, which is part of the reason for their lower price.

6) Uses - Perfumes are only intended for use on the body, but perfume oils can be used to create a variety of scented products, like soap, candles, bath oils, air fresheners, and many other types of scented products. Be aware that there are different types of fragrance oils and that pure uncut oils are not safe for use on the skin.

Here are a few more differences, which I would add to the article :-

7) Perfume Oils are not flammable and can be posted with no special precautions. Perfumes are highly flammable and are a restricted item in the UK, meaning each posted item has to have a declaration on the outer envelope or package, along with a warning.

8) Perfume oils have a longer shelf life than perfumes, because they do not evaporate (the alcohol in perfumes does evaporate).

9) Perfume oils are far less likely to cause an allergic reaction than perfume, which has a high probability due to the very high alcohol content.

When you look at these differences, you have to stop and wonder why the heck do people buy perfumes instead of perfume oils ? Personally, I think a lot of it is the continual marketing and hype in magazines, tv advertisements, celebrity endorsements etc which send buy signals to your brain. Perhaps if perfume oils were dressed up like this more people would buy them, although they would be more expensive due to the packaging.

What do you think? Would you buy perfume oils packaged like this for another £4 to £5 each, or just settle for the 10ml bottle for £6 to £8? Please feel free to comment below.

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